Easter Island is a small island (about 150 square miles in area) in the Pacific Ocean about 2,000 miles from South America. In 400 AD there was a small population of settlers on the island. The island was heavily forested, but the land was not very useful for farming due to extremes in temperature and lack of fresh water. The only staples the settlers had were chickens and sweet potatoes that they brought with them from their previous location. There were not many fish around the island. There were, however, plenty of trees to support the various needs of the new population.
These trees served as a natural resource from which huts and canoes could be built and
a strong rope could be fashioned. Trees were also used as a fuel source for cooking
and heating. Since the society did not need to spend a lot of time on food production,
much time went into social activities. The population began to divide itself into clans and
created rituals that began to dominate their social structure.
Part of the rituals involved the creation of stone statues. A competition between clans
resulted in larger, more elaborate statues being sculpted. Soon trees were cut down
to facilitate moving the statues from one location to another. The rope that was crafted,
it is hypothesised, may have played a part in transporting some large stone statues
from a volcanic rock quarry (near the volcano Rano Raruku) to other parts of the island, where they